Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The first 3 months: The sleeping and feeding of twin infants

I still remember what it was like bringing the twins home from hospital for the first time. It was a combination of absolute terror, euphoric high and general feeling of helplessness. 

How am I suppose to care for these two little beings
who are solely dependent on me for survival?

Shouldn't I feel happy as oppose to being terrified?


I remember the husband gingerly placing the twins into their respective baby car seats while I looked on helplessly. Thank goodness, they slept through their first car ride home with us while we gazed at each other and our children with disbelief that we are finally parents, that we were going home as a family and our lives was changed forever.

Following from yesterday's post on "Suggestions for soon-to-be parents of twins", here's my take on feeding and caring for twin infants for the first 3 months. 

Newborn infants basically sleep, feed, burp, pee, poop and cry. It seems simple enough except it is not. Again, what I am about to share are based on my personal experiences and that means, it may not suit everyone else. We are also incredibly blessed with healthy infants born at full-term who did not spend anytime in NICU so we were able to jump straight into our plan.


The feeding times
We decided on routine as oppose to demand feedings and were guided once again by THAT BOOK which meant our newborn infants were fed every 3 hours on the dot and yes, we had a back up alarm just in case, all of us slept through the all important feed. We felt like we were running a zoo: Feed times - 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am, 3am.

The statistics
Each baby was fed 8 times over a course of 24 hours and you double that.
They were both breast fed and topped up with formula.
That's 16 feeds per day which is translated to 112 feeds per week.
That's 448 feeds per month.
Which also mean we did 1,344 feeds in the first three months!

The length of each feed
Each feed can take anywhere from 20 mins to an hour and burping an infant may take longer than feeding him/her. Yes, patience is a real virtue and you want to burp that baby or else you will be turning on the washing machine more than twice a day!

WHY routine and not demand feedings?
The rationale behind routine feeding is so that the babies will put on weight quicker, aid in the expansion of their bellies so that they can drink more each feed with the aim of doubling their birth weights ASAP. The reason for doubling their birth weights ASAP is so that we can commence sleep training and that means dropping the overnight feeds. Yes, we wake up sleeping babies.

These modern conveniences were our best friends during those crucial months:
  • Medela Symphony electric double breast pumps: Once the twins had been burped and placed back in their cots for their post feed nap, I was on this machine for maximum extraction. I tried tandem breast feeding and it was too hard for me so it was easier to offer mother's milk via the bottle and they didn't mind it. Thankfully, they took to formula without fuss too!
  • Make up formula in advance: This was a tip we learnt from the 9 midwives in hospital. In a 1.5 litre jug, prepare formula for consumption within 24 hours and place in the back of the refrigerator where it is coldest. Pour the amount required in each milk bottle and zap it in the microwave for 5 - 8 seconds depending on the amount, secure with the top & teat and feed away! It was very convenient and a tip that I will always share.
  • Microwave bottle and teat steriliser: We had so many bottles and teats in our home so that we didn't have to wash bottles and teats after every feed especially at 4ish am! The microwave steriliser was quick and efficient ... and we loved it!

Frequently Asked Questions
pertaining to feedings

"How do you feed two infants at once if you are on your own?" 

By putting them in their rockers and sitting between them. After their feed, with a muslin over my shoulder and another muslin over my legs, I would place one twin over my shoulder and the other over my legs and burped them at the same time. Whoever burped first was placed back in the rocker while I continued burping the other.

"How do you know if the twins had enough to drink from the bottle?"

We have an amazing pediatrician who is akin to a coach. He told us that if the bottle of milk is drained empty after the feed, it means the baby is still hungry. The best way to gauge if the baby has enough is when there is a little left over milk left in the bottle. Makes sense to us and the feed recommendations on the tin of formula milk is a recommendation and not the mandatory amount. Our babies always drank more than what was recommended on the tin!

"Isn't the cost of formula exorbitant?"

Our choice of formula milk was recommended by the hospital and pediatrician. You can get purchase the best formula at a fraction of the cost by requesting a letter from your pediatrician who merely states on the letter that you have twins / triples / quads / sextuplets / octuplets, their names, ages, etc etc. You then provide that letter to the company who manufactures the formula and they will deliver your tins of formula (minimum order for ours was 6 tins) to your door step at cost price! Very cost effective considering we went through 1.5 tins of formula every 3 days!


The reason newborn infants sleep in the day and not at night
Many 'new' parents lament that their newborn infants are nocturnal creatures. Well, yes they are because when the babies are growing in us, they sleep during the day due to the rocking motion created by us through our movements and the babies are lulled to sleep. Babies love to be rocked and learnt it while in uretero! When we are asleep at night, that's when the babies (still in our bellies) are most active because we are lying still and they are unable to sleep without the rocking motion!

Therefore, newborn infants tend to sleep a lot during the day and not as much at night. It's not because they are afraid of the dark (it was dark in our womb) and rather of what they are used to. 9 months of sleeping during the day and staying awake at night while in our bellies.

Helping our twins establish good sleeping habits
We read the Gina Ford book "A Contented Home with Twins" extensively and employed A LOT of her methods which made sense to us and they include:
  • Babies sleeping in their own room right from the start without anyone else in the room.
  • Babies being placed in their cots still awake so that they learn how to self-settle without any aid.
  • A dark room stimulates sleep and nap.
  • Following SIDS rules - no cot bumpers / pillows and blankets to be tucked underneath the mattress.
  • Optimum temperature in the room for sleeping is 18 - 22.

The first 3 months will be a huge learning curve for you as their parents and them as your children especially if they are your first children like ours are. Everyone's adjusting and adapting to this life altering opportunity. The sleep deprivation makes everyone crankier coupled with household chores that continue to mount. 

I am very fortunate to have the support of my capable husband and together, we continue to be a formidable team. A very wise mummy friend once told me this when I vented about the sheer exhaustion, "This too shall pass. You will see." She' s absolutely right. Therefore, I offer the same support to you:

"This too shall pass. You will see."

My first outing with the twins

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